Celebrating Moms: What my mom means to me

May 8. The day for the women who inspire us, help raise us and teach us right from wrong. And in return, we dedicate this day to them and all that they do for us. In the videos below, sophomore Roni Mayo, junior Rachel Hyun and sophomore Anish Nag explain how their moms have impacted their lives.

How does your mom inspire you?

What is your favorite memory with your mom?

What do you appreciate about your mom?


Annual French project museum 2016

For original format, see http://www.elestoque.org/2016/05/05/beats/annual-french-project-museum-2016/

When walking into the Student Union, one could hear students debating about politics or talking about comics and countries in French, with poster boards and powerpoints to display their ideas. French 4 Honors and French AP classes held their annual French Museum on Wednesday, April 27, providing students with the opportunity to present projects about French culture and French-speaking countries (also known as “francophone” countries) around the world. It also gave students in lower-level French classes the chance to immerse themselves in the language’s culture for the night. Explore some of the exhibits below.

Juniors Saagar Godithi and Ganesh Valliappan from French 4 Honors studied the North African country Algeria for their project. One thing that they found particularly interesting about the region was its unique style of music.  


Seniors Niti Pawar and Sindhu Majeti from French AP presented about marriage in France. There is a contract called the PAC in France that is similar to a civil union in the U.S., as they explained in their presentation.

Niti and Sindhu

Juniors Bhushan Balagar and Christine Chu from French 4 Honors studied Haiti, and were surprised to learn more about the earthquake impact on the region.

Haiti presentation


French Project Museum

A whole new world of performances

For original format, see  http://www.elestoque.org/2016/05/12/beats/a-whole-new-world-of-performances/

On Friday, April 27, choir students performed songs from a variety of musicals, impressing many with their complex harmonies and expert navigation of famous tunes from on and off Broadway, spanning musicals from “Newsies” to “Kinky Boots.” Here’s a taste of the concert in case you missed it.

2nd period Esperanza choir performed a selection of songs from the Disney musical “Newsies,” with choreography by Jesse Denny.
Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Newsies   Senior Alice Tsvinev performed “Honey Bun” from the musical “South Pacific” with junior David Chen. Choirs Musical Concert 2016: Honey Bun curtain act


3rd period Esperanza sang a selection from “Aladdin” with choreography by Jesse Denny.
Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Aladdin Juniors Elliot Ryu and Saketh Kurnool performed a duet of Nsync’s “This I Promise You.” choirnsync   Bella Voce sang a medley of songs from “Wicked,” with choreography from dance teacher Dasha Plaza. Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Wicked


Senior Thaddeus Tarshis performed “Friends on the Other Side” from the Disney movie “The Princess and the Frog” for another curtain act.
Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Friends on the Other Side   Concert Choir performed a selection from “Jersey Boys,” with choreography by Concert Choir students. Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Jersey Boys


Seniors Osher Fein and Mallory Strom sang “The Secret of Happiness” for a curtain act, from the musical “Daddy Long Legs.”
Choir Musicals Concert: The Secret of Happiness   Variations performed songs from the musical “Kinky Boots” with choreography from Variations member senior Alexa Kwang. Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Kinky Boots

All of the MVHS choirs came together for the finale, a song from the musical “Ragtime” called
“Make Them Hear You.”Choir Musicals Concert 2016: Make Them Hear You

Choir takes on Chicago with a performance at Orchestra Hall

For original format, see http://www.elestoque.org/2016/04/07/beats/choir-takes-on-chicago-with-a-performance-at-orchestra-hall/

Excitement is in the air in the choir room over the upcoming trip to Chicago, where students from Bella Voce and Variations have been invited to perform at Orchestra Hall with other high school and junior college choirs from all over. MVHS’ choirs Bella Voce and Variations were invited by the Manhattan Concert Productions organization, after auditioning to perform at the hall with professional conductors and a live orchestra.

This concert is certainly not child’s play. Choir teacher Shari Summers had to sign a contract with the organization stating that MVHS’ choirs would be ready to go by the time they came to Chicago, and the organization required that they send in a tape a month in advance to show the choirs’ progress on the three songs they will sing together. While the event itself is a serious one, it is also a huge opportunity for choir students to sing in a renowned venue while working with professionals, gaining real-world experience in the realm of music careers.

The three pieces that choir will sing at the concert. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.
The three pieces that choir will sing at the concert. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

The choirs will be singing classical pieces by famous composer Handel. These include “Zadok the Priest,” “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened” and “The King Shall Rejoice.” Summers said these three songs are quite difficult, but the choir has been navigating them well. The songs go way back into English history, as Summers explained.



Sophomore Shreya Roy from Bella Voce explains the rehearsal process for the concert.

Students are also equally excited to immerse themselves in Chicago’s lively jazz culture during their time off on the trip. Summers has planned to take the choirs to see the House of Blues, go on a jazz bus tour and visit popular landmarks like the Sears Tower and the Boston Bean.

Junior Michael Burgess from Variations is most excited to explore Chicago and strengthen the bonds he shares with his fellow singers. He is also looking forward to the famed Chicago deep-dish pizza.

In the three days leading up to the concert on Monday, Apr.18, the choir students will rehearse with conductor Pearl Shangkuan for four hours each day to make sure that the pieces are performance-ready for the dress rehearsal before the show.

Summers says that the hardest one to teach and learn has been “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened.”

While students from Bella Voce and Variations attending the trip have a lot of work ahead of them, the trip promises a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform in a famed music hall and the chance to experience jazz culture—and snag some deep dish pizza along the way.


One minute perspectives on catch-up work after field trips

For original format, see http://www.elestoque.org/2016/04/08/opinion/one-minute-perspectives-on-catch-up-work-after-field-trips/

Co-written by ZaZu Lippert and Isabel Navarette.

MVHS is full of opportunities. With our wide range of clubs encompassing everything from music to robotics, students have the ability to explore their interests in many different avenues.

Some clubs, like DECA and FBLA, as well as classes such as Yearbook and World Studies, offer field trips that expand the opportunities offered to students by taking them to new places. But with these opportunities often comes a cost literally and figuratively. Students who frequently miss school or a long period of time due to field trips usually return to a stack of missed work to complete, which can not only dissuade people from taking a trip, but also make the weeks after returning more difficult.

Teachers also have to alter their curriculum to work around field trips their students may take. Below, two students and a teacher share their opinions on makeup work and field trips.

While chemistry teacher Mia Onodera feels that field trips are important, especially at MVHS she also emphasizes the need for students to catch up on their work when they return.

Freshman Sidharth Rajaram is an active DECA member and talks about his experiences after returning from DECA field trips.

Jennifer Hull, a competitive gymnast and diver, talks about her experiences with missing school for competitions.

Teaching a new tongue: why language teachers chose to teach their language

French teacher Melanie Lhomme

Photo by ZaZu Lippert.
Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

French teacher Melanie Barker-Lhomme’s parents were teachers and initially, so she thought she wanted to be a teacher just because that was what she had been exposed to. However, after exploring other avenues, when writing thank-you letters to past teachers, she realized that she wanted to be one herself.


Spanish teacher Ashley Stolhand

Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

Spanish teacher Ashley Stolhand grew up with Spanish, as her uncle is Mexican. She spent her summers in Peru, and loved immersing herself in the culture.


French teacher Sarah Finck

Photo by ZaZu Lippert.
Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

French teacher Sarah Finck knew she loved languages and used to play teach with her little sister, but it wasn’t until she taught multiple tongues abroad that she settled on French.

How much do you really know about underage drinking?

Co-written by ZaZu Lippert and Derek Shao

Alcohol abuse, alcoholism and underage drinking are issues that continue to plague America, despite the best efforts of the government and concerned parents everywhere. And while many think that MVHS is above all that, believing that our highly academic culture would prevent us from partying, the truth is a little harder to swallow.

Many students don’t realize how much alcohol can affect people, not only when we’re underage, but also when we get older. The changes that alcohol can make are irreversible, and many young drinkers don’t know what they’re really getting into when they start drinking. So, how much do you really know about alcohol? Take this quiz to find out.


Bright ideas

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”-Thomas Edison

Who was Edison?

Born in 1847, Edison was an American inventor who made immense contributions to society that we still use today, although in many cases, in different forms than Edison’s original inventions. Most famous for perfecting the light bulb, Edison’s lesser-known inventions include the phonograph, the carbon microphone, and the movie camera.

While most people look at Edison and see a success story, AP Computer Science teacher David Greenstein sees him in a different light. He looks at Edison in terms of persevering amidst failing many times in his quest to improve the lightbulb.

“The guy was incredibly persistent, and that is a lesson to be learned,” said Greenstein. “If you really believe in something, don’t give up.”


Sophomore Srijani Saha sees one clear answer to why Edison was so successful and was able to come up with all of these ideas of things to make in order to improve the world we live in.
“Curiosity. He was able to look past what we have right now and see the possibilities that could be achieved,” Saha said.



Two of Edison’s numerous inventions were the carbon microphone and the movie camera, which have both made an incredible impact on the way information and culture is spread today. Without these two inventions, many forms of entertainment and art may never have become as popular as they are today, and there would be no way to connect with people across the world.

Senior Zarek Peris recently released his own rap album, which was recorded entirely in his laptop, and without the carbon microphone, which Edison holds the patent to, he may never have had a recording device to put his work on in the first place. The carbon microphone is the first microphone which allowed sound to travel long distances, for radio broadcasts, for example, and makes sound waves into audio.



Edison’s inventions made a huge impact on technology, and technology has definitely changed the way we live.

did you know


But although technology has many pros to it, do we rely too much on technology? And have Edison’s advancements changed more  about the way we live than we really think?






Edison’s inventions led to much of the technology that we use today, some that we have started to take for granted, to even rely on, maybe more than we should. But at the end of the day, what Edison has given us beyond these inventions that have impacted us in more ways than we can count is one lesson: always keep trying. When Edison failed time and time again to perfect the lightbulb, he famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

And to think, it all started with one bright idea.

Music: Used under creative commons license from bensound.com: “Acoustic Breeze,” “Little Idea,” “Memories.” Used with permission from Zarek Peris: “Jet Fuel” by Zarek Peris.

Image of Thomas Edison used under creative commons license.

Original featured image did not fit in this format. For original formatting and featured image, see http://www.elestoque.org/2016/02/11/news/bright-ideas/

Are student records being released?

The basics

Magistrate Judge Allison Claire signed an order on Jan. 25 that would have affected every public school student in California since 2008 by releasing  student records to the Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association. After backlash from parents, the judge has changed her decision, and records will not be sent to the association’s database, but the association will be able to view them. A long court battle between the California Dept. of Education and the Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association led to the records release stated above. However, as of March 4, the records will no longer be given directly to the association. Instead, the California Dept. of Education will allow them to access the records of all students in the special education program and STAR test scores for the past six years and view other records with permission. studentrecords3

The Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association vs. California Dept. of Education case was filed on Dec. 29, 2011 and took place in Sacramento. The Parent’s Association commented to NBC San Diego that they wanted student records to use as data for their research concerning if those with disabilities in the public school system are given equal opportunities as those without. As the Mercury News stated, the association will now only have access to the student records through attorneys assisted by the Dept. of Education at the state level, including names, grades, addresses, test scores and more.

When the records were going to be released before the change in court order, an objection form was released. These objection forms would lead to the change in court order. As the Mercury News reported, an influx of forms caused the judge to change her mind.

Why does the Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association want the records?

Trudy Gross is the Director of Educational and Special Services for FUHSD who worked on the official district statement and followed the case for some time. According the Gross, the association felt that students in the Morgan Hill Special Education program were not given the services that they were supposed to receive.  

“In Special Education,” Gross said, “every student has to have what’s called a specialized education plan, and in that plan, you talk about what are the student’s strengths and challenges and then you create goals to address their needs, and then there are services that then help meet those goals.”

The Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association said that the student records would help them research further into the opportunities given to students in the Special Education program.

It is unclear exactly what the records may have been used for in the argument, or how the information within the California Dept. of Education’s database that will be able to be accessed still will be used to build their case.

Why did the “opt-out” form make a difference?

Objection form. Photo by ZaZu Lippert.

Gross explained that turning in an “opt-out form” did not mean the same thing as opting your records out of being released. The form itself was actually an objection to the release, which would be taken into consideration by the judge, not really an opt-out form, as it had been portrayed in some cases.

“There will be value behind the objection forms,” Gross said before the change in ruling on March 4. “But the judge has not said how they will rule or review the objections that are received.”

Gross was right, the forms did have power. They overturned the ruling and ensured that records will not be disclosed.

While the Morgan Hill Concerned Parent’s Association will be able to see records for their research purposes, the records will not actually be transferred to their database. However, they will be able to be accessed by the Association under the eye of the California Dept. of Education.

For original article, see http://www.elestoque.org/2016/03/08/news/are-student-records-being-released/